Last week, my class SMAD 462: Documentary in Film and TV participated in the Reel Change Film Festival at Court Square Theater. The purpose of this festival was to expose issues relevant to JMU and the greater Harrisonburg community in order to educate, engage, and impact audiences while also celebrating the documentary medium as a tool for awareness, advocacy, and change. My group presented the film “Us Kids,” directed by Kim A. Snyder, which focuses on topics such as gun violence, racial justice, youth voting, mental health, and youth activism.
Members of the community could attend the “Us Kids” showing in Court Square at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 14. My group partnered with JMU Civic as well as the Harrisonburg City Council to invite their members to attend.
The documentary “Us Kids” follows some of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that took place on February 14, 2018, in Parkland, Florida. It highlights their journey as survivors, and then activists who created March For Our Lives. This movement, which included marches and rallies across the nation, confronted lawmakers by encouraging the implementation of better gun control to reduce gun violence.
To provide some context, these are some definitions and statistics that were given to attendees before the showing of the film in a pamphlet:
- Gun violence is defined as violence committed with the use of firearms. This includes pistols, shotguns, assault rifles, or machine guns.
- Gun control refers to any legal measure intended to prevent or restrict the possession or use of guns, particularly firearms.
- More than 500 people die every day due to violence caused by a firearm, according to Amnesty International.
- 5% of the world’s population resides in the U.S, but it experiences 31% of all mass shootings, according to Time.
The showing went smoothly and received much positive feedback from the crowd. During the Q&A, Kim discussed the making of the film and her connection to activism and gun violence. She encouraged those who are passionate about making a change to spark a movement in their own local communities.
Attendees were provided local, state, national, and international resources if they’re interested in learning more about gun violence and advocacy regarding these issues. The Virginia Center for Public Safety is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization “dedicated to the reduction of gun violence” in the state. On the national level, besides the March For Our Lives, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is an organization that “emphasizes education, litigation, and legislation” with the goal to keep communities safe from shootings, gun violence, and police violence. Finally, the International Action Network on Small Arms is a global movement against gun violence that works to stop the “proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.”
The film Us Kids is available to watch for free on Tubi and the Roku Channel. It’s also available to buy on YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, and Apple TV.